Just the Job: Emirates Flight Attendant

Dalia Elmolla, 32, is from Egypt and is a senior flight attendant for Emirates Airline
Wednesday , 17 August 2011
Just the Job: Emirates Flight Attendant
Dalia Elmolla

Being a flight attendant, every day is different. At the end of each month we’re given a schedule of the forthcoming weeks  and, on average, we’ll do eight flights a month.

My day really starts the night before, as each flight usually involves a 24-hour stopover. I’ll pack my little case of essentials: my Berry Bordeaux nail polish by Jessica, Clarins Joli Rouge lipstick, a Vitamin E facial mist and I always take a photograph of my young nephews from back home, Adham and Yehiya.

I choose my clothes depending on what the weather is like at the destination I’m travelling to, which could be anywhere from the chilly climate of Switzerland to the soaring temperatures of Sao Paulo. While we have to wear a uniform for work, out of hours I have a very diverse wardrobe of pieces I’ve picked up from across the world. People are always asking me where I got my favourite coat from, and I love being able to reply, ’What, this? Oh, I picked it up in Germany!’

Breakfast will be something quick like a banana and a coffee is a must. It takes me about an hour to get ready. Hair always has to be tied back away from my face and we have to wear natural make-up – red lipstick and nail polish are essential. A cab then picks me up from my home in Al Nadha and takes me to Dubai airport.

We need to be at work two hours before take off. I’ll check in just like all the other passengers and head to the briefing room to wait for the rest of the crew – there are 14-16 of us per flight. Once there, we’ll all be allocated certain tasks. We’ll spend time checking that the plane is prepared for take-off; looking at everything from the toilets and ensuring the food is in the chillers to getting the cold hand towels ready.

My job can seem glamorous, but it is also hard work. Being a senior flight attendant, I manage the crew in both the economy and business classes. After welcoming the passengers onboard, no matter how long the flight is there’s always something to do from serving the food, drinks and duty free to entertaining the kids and cleaning. By law, if we’re in the air for longer than nine hours we have to take a three-and-a-half-hour break and there’s a crew rest compartment (14 ‘sleeping pods’ hidden upstairs or downstairs on the plane) for us to rest on. After eight years in the job I am now the master of the power nap!

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet lots of people. The other month there was a group of Japanese women travelling with us and one of them was celebrating her 100th birthday! Occasionally I’ll get propositioned by amorous passengers, or I’ll have to deal with air rage, but thankfully we get good training for how to cope with this.

I’m also faced with lots of people who feel frightened during turbulence. I’ll sit next to them and talk to them, and hold their hand if necessary. Of course, there’s an element of risk with getting on a flight but these days I don’t worry about something bad happening, but if there ever is a moment when I’m nervous I don’t show it. If you start freaking out then the passengers will start to as well.

I got into the aviation industry as I wanted to explore the world. I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Chinese theatre in Hollywood. My favourite destination is Thailand because I adore the shopping and the massages, and the one place I’d love to visit that I haven’t is Las Vegas.

Once at our destination, the flight crew are put up in the same hotel so we hang around together. Usually

I’m tired, but I overcome my jet-lag by immediately falling into the time zone of the country I’m in.

People ask me if it’s hard to maintain relationships but these days, with email and Skype, it’s easy to keep in touch with family and boyfriends. When I’m in Dubai, I catch up on my sleep and chill with friends. And then a few days later, I’m up in the air again...

INFO: For more info on Emirates, log onto emirates.com.